The marathons of Hallmark Christmas movies start just the day after Halloween, and are a cherished tradition to countless families. They’ve been airing since 2002, having produced over 100 Holiday movies in the past 14 years. Yet in all of those movies, the leading characters are consistently played by white actors. Almost every movie tells a very heterosexual romance story between a man and a woman. The Hallmark Channel produces heart-warming, relatable content for the festive season. That is, relatable to every cisgendered heterosexual white person.
A list of actors and actresses with recurring appearances in Hallmark movies consisting of 71 people shows only 6 people of color. Lacey Chabert appears in seven of their holiday movies (8 in total), yet finding one black actor to play a leading role is seemingly impossible for casting directors. Even a channel notorious for its predictability and cliches doesn’t need to maintain its credibility as the whitest TV channel.
The channel is clearly marketed towards an older audience. The plot lines often consist of middle-aged characters, and advertisements are for assisted living communities and medications. Along with the race of most of their actors, Hallmark is truly portraying itself as an industry for old white people. In the diverse world that we live in today, that simply isn’t realistic. Representation is an essential sign of respect and acknowledgement. If you can’t feature people of color in your movies, do you even recognize them as a population?
Also… heteros. I remember my heart overflowing with joy when the sister of the love interest in A Bride For Christmas simply mentioned being gay. Did her romantic life develop beyond that? No, not really. Did they ever show her in the same frame with a supposed girlfriend? Nope. Did they even identify the gender of the person she later went on a date with, let alone show them? Not at all. The extent of LGBTQ+ representation in Hallmark movies is the sentence “I’m gay” and maybe a stereotypical gay male best friend.
Diversity in entertainment shows inclusiveness and welcomes viewers of all backgrounds. For a family channel, Hallmark should appeal to all families, not just the white ones. As a family experience, exposing queer children to romantic same-sex relationships in movies helps with their self-esteem and acceptance from family and peers. Media has an incredibly powerful influence on our reality and the lives we live daily. The holidays are a time for nothing but love, and believe it or not, love isn’t something that only exists between a white man and woman.